October 2006

[BBC reports] Sunderland train station was evacuated after a train carrying two nuclear flasks to Sellafield broke down. Smoke was seen coming from the train after an axle overheated, according to British Transport Police (BTP). The station was closed on Wednesday afternoon but has now re-opened to passengers. Mainline and Metro services were hit but are now running again. BTP said the nuclear load did not pose a danger and the station was evacuated because of fumes from the axle. The train is operated by Direct Rail Services, a freight operating company created by British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL).

The operator of Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant has been fined £500,000 following a radioactive leak.


[guardian / PA] The firm that runs Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant will be fined in court on Monday after admitting safety breaches following a radioactive leak.

Around 83,000 litres of acid containing about 20 tonnes of uranium and 160kg of plutonium escaped from a ruptured pipe into a sealed concrete holding cell at the site in Cumbria.

The spillage of spent nuclear fuel was discovered in April 2005 – but may have gone unnoticed for eight months.

No one was injured and no radioactive material escaped into the atmosphere after the leak at the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (Thorp) part of the site.

But British Nuclear Group Sellafield Ltd, which runs the facility, later pleaded guilty to three counts of breaching conditions attached to the Sellafield site licence, granted under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965.

The Health and Safety Executive brought the prosecution, arguing the firm failed to ensure safety systems were in good working order and that radioactive material was effectively contained.

Representatives of the company will appear at Carlisle Crown Court on Monday.

They face unlimited fines under the powers of the court.

also [irish indo 16/10]